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Self-returning Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) using Self-DGPS

This technology employs a novel technique, referred to as self-differential GPS (SDGPS), to allow an unmanned aircraft, equipped only with a simple, low-cost GPS receiver, to fly back to the location where it was launched with approximately 10-20 cm accuracy. Global Positioning Systems (GPS) have enabled a variety of new and unique devices and services in recent years. Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), particularly rely on this as a method of navigation. However, flight is not typically fully automated, as GPS accuracy can vary. Launching and landing at the exact same location is especially difficult without human intervention. Several popular recreational UAVs provide a "return home" feature that automates this process, but the accuracy and precision is generally low.

Differential GPS technology improves accuracy, but requires expensive electronics and a network of ground-based reference stations. Self-differential GPS allows autonomous flight back to a specified location with extremely high accuracy and reliability, regardless of the initial launch trajectory, without requiring any expensive hardware, reference stations, or user input.

This technology would include a low-cost transceiver configured to transmit and receive radio frequency (RF) location signals and a flight path generator. At the time of launch, the system determines a beginning position to which the device is to return, selects a pre-programmed flight pattern, determines the launch trajectory, and modifies the flight pattern according to the launch trajectory. The SDGPS technique uses signal analysis methods to calculate the device's current position relative to a previous time. This determines a highly accurate relative position change, allowing the device to return precisely to the launch location after following a pre-programmed flight path.


  • Can be launched in any direction (e.g., the user can simply turn it on and throw it in the air)
  • Self-configuration to fly a pre-programmed flight path and return to its launch point
  • Recreational toys operated by unskilled users
  • Industrial applications that require fully autonomous flight.
  • Allows the flight path of an aircraft to be automatically modified based on the launch conditions.
  • Useful for unskilled operators and in situations where a precise landing location is required without human control

Additional Details


University of Kansas

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